Innovative Campaign Launched to Fight Trafficking, Exploitation of Children in Haiti

Innovative Campaign Launched to Fight Trafficking, Exploitation of Children in Haiti

April 22, 2009

Washington, D.C., April 22, 2009– With 200,000 children victims of trafficking, forced labor and other exploitation in Haiti, the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) and its agency Interlex created an innovative U.S. campaign to support them.

The campaign, called I Too Am Haiti, brings together TV, radio, print and online activities to raise awareness and funds for Haitian children who are the victims of exploitation in the most impoverished country in the Western Hemisphere.

The I Too Am Haiti campaign specifically targets segments of the U.S. population: African-Americans ages 24 to 54; residents and the Haitian Diaspora in strategic U.S. cities with strong ties to Haiti (including New York, Miami, Jacksonville, and Los Angeles); and socially active individuals who have supported human rights efforts.

The I Too Am Haiti concept was created by PADF’s ad agency of record, Interlex, and is inspired by Langston Hughes moving poem “I, Too, Sing America.”

“The campaign draws on the rich history of Black America’s struggle to overcome exploitation,” says Interlex President & Chief Creative Officer Rudy Ruiz. “I Too Am Haiti will leverage the power and relevance of that struggle to motivate African-Americans and others to support exploited children so close to home.”

The actor known as “The Haitian” on NBC’s hit series “Heroes,” Jimmy Jean-Louis, is collaborating as PADF’s Goodwill Ambassador for Haiti’s Children. Jean-Louis recorded a TV public service announcement in New York on April 10 and will be conducting media interviews.

“The exploitation of children is a stain on human dignity,” says Jean-Louis. “It is within our reach to create a better future for these children.”

In addition to the PSA and media efforts, the campaign includes outreach to Members of Congress and the Obama Administration to raise awareness on the issue and generate support for PADF’s efforts, which include supporting 50 shelters that provide a safe haven for exploited children, advocacy on their behalf and training of community groups to identify abused children. Jean-Louis will participate in the Washington, D.C., briefings.

Building Haiti from the Ground Up

PADF’s Deputy Executive Director Amy Coughenour says I Too Am Haiti is the first in a series of specialized campaigns that are part of the non-profit organization’s larger “Building Haiti from the Ground Up” initiative.

“To help people better understand how they can help Haiti, we made a strategic decision to present the country’s challenges in a series of campaigns,” Coughenour says. “Together, these issue-specific campaigns will raise awareness and resources that will change the lives of Haitians.”

In addition to exploited children, other issue-specific campaigns in Building Haiti from the Ground Up initiative will include community-driven development, job creation and reviving agriculture. The I Too Am Haiti campaign will run for approximately six months.

Besides targeting individuals, each campaign will reach out to multilateral funders, foundations, corporations and others in the philanthropic community.

“They want to help Haiti but need a point of entry,” says Coughenour. “By creating these issue-specific campaigns, PADF can align a challenge in Haiti with an organization’s mission and funding goals.”

Also working closely on the I Too Am Haiti campaign is Neil Foote, president of Foote Communications of Dallas, and George Rivera, owner of George Rivera Productions in New York. Foote is focusing on outreach to the African-American media. Rivera wrote and produced the 30-second PSA.

About PADF

PADF is a non-profit organization established in 1962 to promote, facilitate, and implement social and economic development in Latin America and the Caribbean. In the past year, it had more than 4.5 million beneficiaries in 18 countries.

PADF is one of the largest non-governmental organizations in Haiti. With nearly three decades of work on the ground, PADF now manages a large portfolio of activities ranging from community-driven development to protecting human rights.

Its headquarters is in Washington, D.C., and has field offices in Colombia, the Dominican Republic and elsewhere.